It is perfectly possible to wander about ignoring your entire life. You can in fact muddle through the most outrageous of days, sitting in the midst of the chaos you have hidden in candlelight, watching Coronation Street and nibbling on a garlic stuffed olive. You can even knock back a glass of Rioja at wine o’clock and blur the lines between truth and the fiction you would prefer your life to be. Or you can switch the lights on and stare at what actually is.
Yesterday, in what I now consider to be a seminal moment on the journey to my new normal, I took it in to my head to go shopping for light-bulbs. It struck me, you see that Finley and I had been existing in the shadows of what used to be and it wouldn’t do at all to imagine that at some point the light-bulb fairy would call and change all those that had blown. The picture light above my gilt framed blue lady wasn’t working. The standard lamp on the right hand side of the sofa had blown, and the green lamp tucked in to the corner of the dining room had long given up the ghost.
The ridiculous thing is that I do not think I have either bought, nor changed a single light-bulb in five years having been in possession of a man who made it his business to keep the mechanics of life at Chez Brocante ticking over, and now months later, not only had all emotion died but along with it any hope of reading in the living room without squinting or declaring this be the time of life I need specs.
And so I popped Alfie in to his cage, covering it up with a blanket as if he were a budgie, so I could ever so slightly muffle the barks of outrage highly likely to annoy the neighbours, then turned up the radio loud, and set off on a mission to throw a little light on the subject of our future.
Readers, it has been a revelation. Not really knowing what I was doing, I seem to have bought bulbs twice as bright as any of those we have used before and all of a sudden I feel like I am living in someone else’s house: not only able to see the shocking stains and state of my very own little nation, but also suddenly hyper aware that too much can be hidden in the shadows and that life looks brighter when we do not try to exist in them.
Last night Finley and I shared pizza, sitting squashed up on the sofa together, watching Alex Polittzi right the wrongs of another hopeless small business, and feeling somewhat astonished by the brilliance of the living room. My Mum called in and said, without knowing about our new illumination, that the house looked so very cosy from the lane, while Finn and I blinked at her like moles emerging from a dark and dank hole. My Mum, who cannot exist without decent light and has long been crying out for it in the little warren that is my little cottage. My Mum, who kissed us goodnight and left us to argue over the last slice of pizza, until finally I gave in to my ravenous little boy, and he stood up and declared that he could not stand it any more, before switching off two of the many lamps in the room and snuggling back under the blankets on my knee as he shoved a piece of pepperoni in to his mouth.
I think we both felt better. So I guess some things, even good things, take a little getting used to.